Galatians 2

February 6, 2018

As we dig in to Galatians 2, there are a couple of things to remember:

  1. Paul writes this after 14 years of actually preaching the Gospel.
  2. That Gospel is summarized in Gal. 1:4:
    1. [The Lord Jesus Christ, from v.3] gave Himself for us
    2. To rescue [exaireō, to remove, or to deliver from, as in removed the brand from the fire] us
    3. From this present evil age [i.e., our sins that tie us to that age]
    4. According to the will of God our Father (note: “our,” denoting the intimacy of the relationship with us
  3. Paul checked this out with the original disciples in Jerusalem just to make sure he was okay with his teachings, and he did so privately.
  4. Circumcision was not at issue for the Gentile converts there.  As we go on, you will begin to see that circumcision was not really the issue, it was control, but more coming on that.

 

Galatians 2 is primarily about our identity in Christ, how it is gained, and how it is maintained (2:20).  How is it gained?  And how is it maintained?

  1. By Grace Alone
  2. Through Faith Alone
  3. In Christ Alone
  4. Found in the Scriptures Alone
  5. To the Glory of God Alone

Well, that’s the theory, anyway.  There are practical steps, and we will mention those as we go through the chapter.

 

Common misconceptions regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

  1. We have some part to play in the Gospel, like “inviting Jesus into your heart,” as many preachers of our modern Churchianity preach.  Both Jesus and the Bible never say that, just in case you thought it did.  Rather, it says (1:4) that “He gave Himself to rescue us,” or literally “pluck us out of” something – “this present evil age.”  So what part do we play in the Gospel if any?  Well, it’s our sin [hamartia, to miss the mark].  That Greek word is necessarily abstract, and essentially means offense or failure.  It is wrongdoing in the broadest sense, to miss the target and not share the prize.  That is the very reason why He gave Himself for us and from what He rescued us – and all of this was the will of God our Father – a nod to the idea that this was God’s longstanding plan for humankind all along.
  2. More than Jesus is required for our rescue from sin and its consequences.  Trying to add to the salvific effect of Jesus’ death and resurrection is destructive to salvation itself.  Think of it in this historical-redemptive context:  Before Christ came, died, and rose from the grave, the God-given religion of the day was Judaism, and the way to be saved from “this present evil age” was to convert to Judaism, place yourself under the Mosaic Law, and that meant circumcision as a mark of that conversion and covenant between Man and God.  Enter Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice for sins under the Law of Moses.  His death, burial, and resurrection fulfil the Law, bring it to completion, or as Heb. 8:13a, “When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.”  At least for Gentile believers, there is no more Mosaic Law (we can sort out what this means for Jews another time).  We are now under a New Covenant (Testament), and the mark of THAT covenant is the Holy Spirit, not something humans do with their hands or tools like under the Old Covenant (Testament).  To add anything else destroys the entire salvific effect of the New Covenant.  In other words, Jesus is enough.  His sacrifice is defiled when any other work of man or external sign is added as a condition of salvation.

 

Okay, okay, okay, you at the back with your hyperactive waving of your hand, ask your question.

 

>>>BUT WHAT ABOUT BAPTISM?!?<<<  Doesn’t it say in I peter 3:21 that “Baptism saves you?”

 

Breathe in, breathe out heavily.  Okay, I’ll answer that – yes, it does say that:

 

2/6/2018 1:05 PM – Screen Clipping

 

That verse from Peter also explains itself.  This is not the cleansing sacrifice that the Old Covenant demanded.  Peter says that this is “NOT the removal of dirt from the flesh,” so it has more to do with making us holy, and restoring our conscience before God – and it is only possible through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Peter here is not talking about our justification as Paul is, but is speaking of our sanctification, the process by which we are made holy.  Paul is talking here about one’s spirit being made alive, therefore justification, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Clear?  Peter, in his epistles, knowing he is always writing to Christians that are already saved, is ALWAYS talking about sanctification, or if you like, the salvation of our SOULS, opposed to our SPIRITS being made alive.  How do I know that?  1 Peter 1:1 says that he is writing to the “eklektos,” the same word we translate as the “elect.”  You can’t be one of those and NOT be saved.  Put your hand down, we are NOT getting into a discussion of Calvinism here.  So then, baptism is a good-conscience response to the salvation-justification that has already taken place.

 

Okay, fine, put your hand down and ask your question.  ::sigh::

 

>>>WHAT ABOUT JESUS AND ANOTHER PERSON?!?<<<

 

Um, no.  Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned” [emphasis mine].  This has the same problem as point 2 above:  Jesus’ sacrifice is defiled by anything or ANYONE added as a condition of salvation, and the New Covenant’s salvific effect is destroyed.  And before you can ask it, I already know your next question.  Oh, don’t look so disappointed…you can try to look smart later.

 

How did these heretical ideas get started to begin with?  (You know, I can tell by how far your lower lip is protruding that I nailed it.)  Verse 4 of this chapter says it for us:  “false brethren, secretly brought in…”  Well who brought them in?  The enemy I suspect.  How did they get past us?  “They sneaked in…”  I get the impression that they aren’t supposed to be here, and somebody besides us knows it, even if they don’t.  They got in, and that’s what matters.  Why?  “…to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, to bring us into further bondage.”  You see, there are two similar concepts that must be understood:

 

Religion Reality
Set of rules that govern our behaviour Self-governing so we can do the right behaviour

 

Because the two sets of behaviours result in something that is relatively similar, it is easy to confuse the two, and even interchange them.  However, only one is offering the “living sacrifice” that Romans 12:1-2 talk about.  How did Paul respond to this?

 

5:  He “did not yield…even for an hour.”  He stuck to the Gospel, and better, the original apostles (they guys that got the Gospel right from Jesus) recognized that Paul was teaching the proper Gospel and gave him official and public approval.  When it came down to it, all they asked (v.10) was for Paul to remember the poor, the very thing that Paul had on his heart.  This shows unanimity, which I have learned through the Scriptures and through personal experience in matters of faith, is the signature of the Holy Spirit!

 

2:11-14 – Remember those similar concepts from earlier?  Well, even peter confused and hypocritically interchanged them so he wouldn’t have to argue with people.  Paul (v.14) calls him out on this this point – publicly, embarrassingly, and specifically.  From this point, he goes on to define again the very Gospel he received as direct revelation from God.

 

2:15-21 – The definitive Gospel – Paul begins by asking this question.  Is a person justified by works of the law or by faith in Jesus Christ?  If your answer was “works of the law,” think again.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us that all our righteousness is as filthy rags (and this is the translators being gentle with us by softening the translation for us – the original meaning was menstrual rags).  The very best we can do before God on our best day isn’t enough – it isn’t even close.  The alternate answer is found in Habakkuk 2:4 – “…the righteous will live by His faith…” (cf. Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38).  NB:  BOTH of these verses are from Old Testament Prophets of God, who both saw a NEW covenant coming, one better than the Mosaic Law.

 

17:  So if while seeking to be justified by faith in Christ, we are found to be sinners, does this mean that Christ serves sin?  Well, no.  That thinking dishonours Christ and is hurtful to us as those seeking justification.

 

18:  In fact, the moment I go back to the old way of thinking, it makes me a sinner.

 

19:  Legal sentence has been carried out; all who will identify with Christ in His death will live to God – the Great Exchange has been made!

 

20:  The Great Exchange:

 

 

The “C” in the illustration represents Christ.  The center circle of the diagram represents the center of your being, sometimes called your heart [Gk., kardia]  Note that in the circle on the right, Christ changes places with the “s,” which stands for “something,” probably “self.”  Now read the test of verse 20:  I have been crucified with Christ – nevertheless, I live (the “s” is not gone, it’s still there), yet NOT I, but Christ who lives in me (but now you have surrendered control to Him).  And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

The arrow represents how the exchange is made by faith between the two.

 

21:  Let me ask this verse as a question:  If righteousness came through the Law, then what need is there for Christ?    Can the Law actually make this kind of exchange?  No, it cannot.

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